Wells Fargo Finds No Escape From Protests With Meeting in Iowa

(Bloomberg) -- Wells Fargo & Co.’s investors have a big day ahead -- and so do the company’s critics.

Activist groups are planning a march Tuesday in Des Moines, Iowa, where the bank is holding its annual shareholders meeting, as well as “sister” protests in cities across the U.S.

Organizers are signaling a long list of grievances, including the firm’s consumer banking scandals, labor practices and work with the National Rifle Association. One invitation indicates that while investors vote on backing the bank’s leadership inside a downtown Marriott, some of the company’s own employees may speak against it outside.

California Treasurer John Chiang offered a preview Monday, holding a news conference next to the lender’s San Francisco headquarters to renew his call for the removal of Chief Executive Officer Tim Sloan and board member John Baker. The bank should hire an outsider as CEO and stop forcing arbitration on aggrieved consumers, he said.

“Time has proven Mr. Sloan cannot drain the swamp -- he has become it. It is time for him to go,” said Chiang, who’s running for California governor.

Trailed by consumer advocates and members of the regional carpenters’ union, Chiang crossed the street to deliver a letter to Sloan. A suited member of the bank’s security intercepted him outside the front door, listened to Chiang’s explanation, and accepted the large white envelope.

Wells Fargo has been overhauling its internal controls and culture since consumer banking scandals began erupting in 2016.

“Company leaders look forward to presenting to shareholders an update on accomplishments to date, and the work in progress,” spokesman Ancel Martinez said in an email. “We remain focused on building a better bank and rebuilding trust with our broad range of stakeholders.”

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.